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Pursuant to my post about conferences, I've been thinking about how making events affordable is an access issue.

Making your event affordable attracts people of different classes and backgrounds and locations. It also makes your event more welcoming to disabled folks / PWD. People with disabilities are more likely to be poor for structural, societal reasons. Being disabled can affect a person's earning potential due to discrimination and impairment-related reasons; it also is just plain expensive. For me, for example: There are co-pays on prescriptions and doctor appointments; health services that are not covered by insurance; supplements to buy; expensive shoes that don't hurt my feet; the list goes on and on. For people on special diets, food can be more expensive. A 2008 study found gluten-free products to be much more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts.

Worry about money is a near-constant source of stress for many people, and some studies link this stress to negative health effects.

If we are planning events, what can we do to help make them more affordable?

Here are some ideas:

Registration and Programming
Sliding scale registrations; day memberships
Member Assistance Fund or Scholarships
ConSuite (hospitality suite)
Free Childcare
Kid, Teen, Youth programming tracks at fan conventions so people can bring their kids
Rebates or refunds for volunteering or presenting

List area hostels
Have a room share board on social media

Provide cab vouchers and/or mass transit fees so people can get back to their lodging late at night
Have a ride share board
Choose a venue that is on bus or mass transit lines

List local restaurants, grocery stores, and markets. Note if the markets accept food stamps. note if the grocery stores deliver.
Note if they hotel has fridges or microwaves in the rooms or lobby.

Look for grants and sponsorships to help off set costs.
Ask for donated items for prizes and gifts.
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In June I had the privilege of attending SDS2014, the Society for Disability Studies conference in Minneapolis. SDS did a lot of things right concerning accessibility for people with disabilities. It did not appear that the organizers had put as much thought into economic accessibility. For instance, the venue was an expensive downtown hotel. The nearby restaurants were mostly sit-down restaurants. The convenience shop in the hotel had some bottled beverages and foods at airport prices. Lunch time meetings at the conference felt inaccessible to me, because I didn't know where to grab a sandwich or take out food at a place that I could afford to eat, and get back in time for the session. So I skipped the lunch time sessions; I need to eat according to a set schedule, as I'm sure many folks do. (Note that SDS' discussion of anti-harassment policies occurred during a lunch time session.)

Many academic conferences are similarly expensive, and do not seem to care about being affordable. The registration prices alone can be close to a thousand dollars. This is before hotel, travel, food, and any incidentals for conference participants. Presenters many want to get new clothes or travel gear, for instance. Many people attending academic conferences have their institutions pay for these expenses, or get grants or scholarships to cover them.

Check out two price listings for conferences, just as examples:
An epidemiology conference in Spain
Grace Hopper Women in Computing

I attended SDS as a community member rather than as an academic-- ie, not affiliated with an institution. A friend paid for the reg fee and hotel, and we carpooled there and brought some of our own snacks. SDS does have a sliding scale for their reg fees. Disability studies, unlike many other academic disciplines, values the role of community members and lay people because your lived experience counts. Your embodiment and activism count. You don't necessarily need classes, degrees, and publications to contribute. (I do have some independent-of-the-academy publications.)

My main convention and social event of the year is WisCon, a fan convention, which prioritizes affordability. Many of our affordability issues intersect with other social justice issues, such as disability access and emotional access.

For instance, WisCon provides late-night cab vouchers to get people home from the convention. I imagine the original intent of this service was safety: prevent drunk driving and the like, since alcohol flows fairly free at convention parties. But it also provides an affordable means for people to get home without having to pay for a cab or rely on bus schedules or friends, and means that some people can stay other places than downtown hotels, such as on the outskirts of town at their own or friends' houses or cheaper hotels. It provides independence-- the means to leave the convention when you want (also a safety feature). The cab service we use is a co-op and a union, allowing us to support a local business with shared values. And cabs can be reserved online, which is another accessibility feature.

All of these things intersect. Feeling like your finances are stretched and you can barely afford to be somewhere is stressful and adds to cognitive and emotional load. It means you can't be as present and contribute as fully as you might like. Worrying about affording a meal when you want to go out with friends or colleagues can be embarrassing.

So why are academic conferences so expensive? Not having organized one, or even gone to many, I really have no idea. Looking around on the internet, people say that the fee covers venue, food, and keynote speakers, etc. Probably professional conference organizers plan these things, and take their cut. But conferences can leverage their power as clients to negotiate better deals with hotels and convention centers. They can use university or public venues which are sometimes cheaper. First and foremost, they can simply think about how to lower costs and reduce the economic burden on their participants, instead of assuming everyone who comes is able to blithely afford it.

I do know that charging so much money functions as a gate-keeping mechanism to keep people out. It creates a space where the conference itself is an in-club for people who can afford to be there: a country club effect. The privileged rub elbows and make connections with each other.

This affects the quality of academics. Science, my field of employ, has a myriad of problems with diversity. These things are connected.

SDS 2014

Jun. 15th, 2014 07:32 pm
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I attended the Society for Disability Studies conference with my friends [personal profile] jesse_the_k and Barb, which was in Minneapolis over 4 days. My impressions were that it was highly academic, rather expensive, and quite thought-provoking. I experimented with live tweeting some sessions under their hash tag: #Sodist2014.

My impressions on accessibility at this conference:
--Nearly every panel was live-captioned via CART.
--There were many interpreters.
--Mics were in every room and were used by everyone.
--Presenters were pretty good about spelling difficult words for the captionists, elegantly describing images, and checking to make sure they were heard.
--@PriceMargaret was especially good about checking in for access: when presenting, she would say such things as: "Please do what you need to do for your own comfort in this room; such as moving chairs around, getting up to stretch, zoning out, or whatever. Also feel free to interrupt me for access needs."
--At opening ceremonies, all the aisles (both directions) were wide enough for wheelchairs to pass.
--Water bowls were available for service dogs.
--Scent-free soap was provided to registrants.
--It was great being in a place where disability is normalized.

Negative things:
--As Jesse noted, wheelchair seating could have been better. There were no designated seats in front for those who needed the captions; and no marked out boxes for wheelchairs. At the luncheon, no chairs were removed from tables for wheelchairs, and the tables were set pretty close to each other. This seemed odd. There were no marked lanes for crowd control.
--Signage was bad. It was difficult to find the bathrooms, elevators, and program rooms. There was a map in the program book, but it was buried on page 17.
--The program book was difficult for me to use/navigate.
--Many of the presentations were in an incredibly high academic register and were incomprehensible. I tried to avoid these and go to more understandable ones.
--Interesting meetings were scheduled over meal times, which is fine, except that it was difficult to find fast, cheap food. So I did not attend these meetings. Not much food was provided by the conference. We thought that probably the money for food went towards CART and interpreters instead. I am happy to pay for my own food; what I suggest is that the conference work with the hotel to provide box lunches for a fee, so that people can attend these meetings without having to use spoons to hunt down a meal.
--The hotel, hotel restaurant, and many nearby restaurants were quite pricey. I keenly missed the free food and booze that is offered at WisCon, and the nearby Noodles and other less expensive eateries. Economic accessibility matters too.

I had a really great time and learned a lot! I left my dog with a dog park friend and now she is back on the sofa with me.

My favorite presentations:
Disability in 5 objects
Disability and Shoes

sasha_feather: Simon Pegg from Hot Fuzz holding a gun looking tough (hot fuzz)
I hope you all know by now that language and its effects are an issue near and dear to my heart. Language can be hostile or welcoming, centering or othering. This is particularly on my mind as I look at various "accessibility" policies for conventions in the SF/F world.

I am creating List of such conventions for the Geek Feminism Wiki. (This was inspired by their List of cons with anti-harassment policies.)

First, why is it helpful to have such policies online?

Because information is good access. The more information you can provide to people, even if it's to say that there are barriers to access, the better people can plan for their trip.
Secondly, if people have to ask to receive information, that in itself is a barrier. As many of us with anxiety, fatigue, or other disabilities know, it can be difficult to make that phone call or send that email. A lot of us are used to dealing with people on the other end of the line who aren't our allies and might make our lives more difficult when we ask for information.

As and someone working access, do you really want to give out the information again and again? Why not just do it once, and then point people at your webpage or printed materials?

I know there are some conventions that have had good access but don't have their policies online. Open Source Bridge, I'm looking at you. :)

Other conventions have their policies online (good!) but then make all kinds of mistakes with language. They send signals that they really don't want PWDs to attend at all, that they think people are faking disabilities in order to get good seats or other services (no one does this! seriously), and otherwise hostile language.

Several of these pages use the term "special needs". I don't think very many people on this planet have special needs. Most people have the same needs, it's just that some of us need accommodation in order to enjoy the same events at conventions, like getting to the programming rooms in a timely manner, being able to move through the hotel, being able to understand what is going on, being able to visit with friends, etc. I realize special needs is an introduced PC term for disabled people, but I am just not sure that it fits or is accurate. It makes it sound like disabled people want "more" (like champagne) when what we really want is the same stuff as everyone else (water in a glass we can hold).

Whenever you want to say or write "special needs", I suggest you substitute "accommodations" instead.

Let's Break down some of the specific policies and why they are problematic:


"We will have the Con schedule in large print available (to be read at our table or we can email a copy to you to print or download to your screen reading device)

If you have low vision, you better have a device for reading the program. Otherwise, you have to sit at the registration table to read the program! It's apparently too hard for them to print off a few more copies for low-vision attendees. (Remember, this is a for-profit con.) I really don't know why you would want people clustered around your reg desk that way.

We offer 5 stickers for badges, based on needs:

Wheelchair seating: for our wheeled folk, of course.
Chair in Line/End of Row: for non-wheeled folks with mobility impairments.
Proximity/ 50 ft. to Screen: for visual/lip reading access.
Sightlines: for access to the interpreter, safe space for working animals, and certain other unique situations.
Medical: This sticker is merely a place to put emergency information if you have a medical condition that the EMT needs to know about before they put you in the ambulance. It does not entitle you to any other services.

A person has to out themselves in order to get any of these services. It's right there on one's badge: everyone you interact with at the convention then knows you are a disabled person. It also positions whoever gives the sticker as an authority. I know a lot of people with mild hearing loss who don't consider themselves disabled, but who might benefit from line-of-sight seating. Such people wouldn't want to get a sticker even if they might use an otherwise reserved chair.

One important thing to remember: we will do our best to make sure events are accessible to you, but that does not mean we guarantee you a front row seat, or head-of-the-line privileges. If you are going to a very popular event, you must get there extra early to get a good seat, just like everyone else. The accessible seating will not be in the front row.

I guess if you move slowly, are delayed by crowded elevators, etc., you are screwed. Several other websites said this. Maybe these conventions should put a cap on their membership? (Oh wait, DragonCon is for profit.)

Phoenix Comic Con This is the worst one.

You get a special badge! Lucky you.

But the badge doesn't get you:

· Early access to panels and special events
· Guaranteed access into special events, photo ops, autographs, or panels.
· The ability to skip lines

So fuck you I guess! Especially if you are someone who can't stand for a long time!

Service Animals are always welcome at the Phoenix Convention Center. Animals are sometimes questioned if the need is not apparent, so we suggest attendees carry documentation with them for their companion.

Does anyone know if this is actually illegal? It sounds illegal to me. [eta: it is, see comments] Then again, it's Arizona... I don't think "welcome" means what they think it means, also, to be pedantic, you won't get very far questioning an animal!

Some of the other policies are much better, including for ReaderCon, FogCon, and Arisia (and WisCon, but no need to toot my own horn--plus, I always want to improve.) Some suggested bits of activism for those involved with conventions, or even those who aren't but who can do emailing:
*Encourage Conferences and Conventions to develop Access policies and list them online. Professional and Academic conferences, trade shows, etc can be included here.
*Encourage those with bad policies to improve them.

Comments and suggestions welcome.
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ReaderCon Fail link to Kate Nepveu's jounal.

Turns out their "zero tolerance" policy towards harassment is not so "zero" after all.
sasha_feather: kid from movie pitch black (pitch black)
I don't think I ever posted about WisCon! WisCon 31 was my first one, so I've now been going for 6 years. One of the funny things is, they are starting to run together in my mind. I went to the year-end picnic today for the con com, and I knew I'd been to that same park before for the same event, but couldn't remember which year.

I tried to take it easy this year at WisCon and pace myself. I was exhausted by the end anyway. I didn't go to a ton of panels. Sunday seems to be the day I need a big nap. I went to Pan Morigan's voice workshop on Friday afternoon which was a very useful way to start the convention. This is the same workshop I went to at Think Galacticon and loved so much. In a short amount of time we all seemed to get increased volume and confidence in our voices.

Friday night was the vid party run by futuransky and were-duck. I had a showcase called "the Abuse of Authority"-- vids about power and violence-- which I really enjoyed putting together. We had a panel the next day which was really awesome. You can read more about that at were-duck's journal and you can also find the playlists at [community profile] wiscon_vidparty. I got to meet [personal profile] chaila on the panel and she talked about her Parables vid (AMAZEBALLS). The audience was really engaged and we had a great time.

I was on a couple of disability panels: 201/Being an Ally (which I overslept and showed up late for), and Assistive Tech is one of my fandoms. I'm starting to feel like I've said what I have to say on this subject.

I'm proud of the essay that I have published in the WisCon Chronicles, edited by Alexis Lothian. This is the first piece of writing I've ever been paid for! There is some really great content in the Chronicles this year, including a very emotional and honest piece by Ian Hageman about his negative experiences with the Clarion Workshops. It takes courage to speak out about such things and I commend him for writing it and the Chronicles for publishing it. There is a piece about class by [personal profile] raanve and [personal profile] wrdnrd, which is one area where I am endeavoring to learn more. I went to their panel "Untangling Class" this year but missed some of the others. I look forward to more of these discussions.

I caught part of an Intersectionality panel that I enjoyed. I value getting to hear experienced activists talk, because I feel like an inexperienced activist in many ways. Jacqueline Gross was on this panel, and responded to a question from the audience about "what do you say to someone who compares their experience of oppression to race, etc?" She gave concrete examples of her life as a black woman; ie, when she calls the cops, she talks in a "talking to white people voice", and if stopped by the cops in a car, she puts her hands on the dash. Someone (in the audience?) said that intersectionality, or a failure thereof, is when you are in a safer space and you feel threatened or attacked regarding one of your other identities. This has definitely happened to me! The panelists talked about the importance of speaking up for other groups of people, and "tag teaming"-- tapping someone else in when you are exhausted. Ian said something about "speaking into a place where the other person can listen" which resonated with me. Sometimes I want to have a conversation at one level, and the other person is not ready to hear it. Overall this panel was great!

Other highlights of the convention were room parties-- I've honestly never been to a private room party before!-- and some nice meals. The hotel restaurant has really good food and service, with and added bonus of being close and being open on Memorial Day. I try to meet new people every year and I did succeed in that. I also enjoyed getting to know some acquaintances better.
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Facilitator: Mary Anne Mohanraj AND Tanya DePass

This was a very good discussion. Some of the incidents outlined briefly at the beginning: Racefail '09; the Open Source Boob Project; that time when Harlan Ellison grabbed Connie Willis' breast in front of a huge audience; and MoonFail. Briefly mentioned later: Jim Butcher has been accused of whitewashing the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago; a list of YA books on Jezebel Bitch magazine where some books were asked to be removed. Mary Anne talked about an incident involving Heather Ross, a crafter. She also talked about an incident involving herself on a "fail" panel two years ago at WisCon, when she was called on something and apologized. She said that her first instinct as a "nice Asian" is to want to smooth things over, and have calm, reasoned debate. She had to be taught the tone argument, had to learn that being upset can be very productive and that sometimes the upset may need to be escalated. During RaceFail she posted to John Scalzi's blog, posts that got over 1000 comments, which were heavily moderated. How would you handle such a situation? She pointed to other resources, including Jay Smooth's brilliant video on how to react when being called on racism.

We talked about trust and relationships and how we should talk about what is wrong because we care. There is a family aspect to WisCon and many of us have social capital there. We hope to "fail better next time."

I wrote down "safer, contentious, and learning spaces" but I am not sure what that means.

It is good to couch criticism in praise, but we all know that sometimes tone does not matter at all, and the person will feel yelled at.
"We're all swimming in a sea of racism, some of it will stick to you." --Nalo Hopkinson.

Try using a mediator: If you can't talk to the person who is failing, maybe someone else can.

I brought up the concept of forgiveness, or one might say acceptance. I don't want to hold grudges, and I want to forgive people even if they don't apologize, because I don't want to be a bitter and angry person. We can accept that sometimes people aren't going to get it, or it may take them years. (Not at all surprising, that I wanted to talk about emotional work!)

Mia said that sometimes ability and age get left behind in these discussions of social justice and in representations in SF/F.

What if you are the first one to notice something wrong?
How do you balance community needs vs. individual needs? Public vs. Private?

It would be great to model disagreements. Have people who know and trust each other a lot, yet who disagree strongly, be on a panel. Model this behavior for people who have not seen it!
sasha_feather: Legend of Korra promo  (Korra)
Octavia Butler and Emergent Strategies with Adrienne Maree Brown

"All that you touch, you change. All that you change, changes you. The only lasting truth is change. God is change." These words of Octavia E Butler's have impacted people very seriously on a personal level -- but how do we apply her wisdom on a political organizing level? How do we approach the strategic planning we're all supposed to do if we accept, and come to love, the emergent power of changing conditions? This session will be half "popular organizational development" training and half inquiry into what the future of organizational development and strategic planning will look like.

Adrienne returns to these books as her grandfather returns to his Bible.

Strategy is a word of military origin. How do we get away from that. Emergent properties are organic and unpredictable.

From Parables Books: Olamina's journey
Go from relationships to networks rather than relying on physical spaces. These are much harder to destroy.

Olamina sees every person she meets as a potential revolutionary or ally. (We discussed the difference.) Every person is connected and can likely agree on some things.

Some people in the movement may turn against it when under pressure. But we can be less judgmental of that and more understanding of people's circumstances.

Are the people in our movement spiritually aligned? Reclaim this word. We are fighting the religious radical right with politics when we could be meeting a spiritual force with a spiritual force. (My small group also talked about the term "shared values").

Put values before structures in your organization.

Xenogenesis books/Lillith's brood

Focus on Adaptation, and on Lillith's capacity for grief and solitude. What would it mean to be non-dominant? Can you win or succeed from a non-dominant position? What about evolving what it means to be human, expanding that definition?


Capacity for connection. Trust and organic hierarchy. Staying under the radar (as activist organizations) until we have the strength to compete as equals.


In Fantasy, Servitude with N.K. Jemisin.

I didn't get a whole lot out of this discussion. We did come to the conclusion that class is often discussed in fantasy books, and that this genre is a good medium for class discussions. We made fun of the trope of the king who just wants to go back to the simple life of the stable boy (ie man pain). I brought up the trope of how a character will go from a relatively privileged position to being sold into slavery, which Andrea Hairston poked fun at, "I have suffered more!", and I realized this trope could be called "cultural tourism". We also decided that realistic descriptions of slavery simply aren't "fun" and therefore are less likely to be portrayed.
ETA: The military is also service, of course, and Nora talked a bit about child soldiers. Why do they exist, when women make better soldiers physically than kids? Well, if you see women as the prize, or as means to make more children, then kids will be used as soldiers over women.

Books mentioned:
Brian Sanderson's Misborn Trilogy
Tim Powers
Carol Emswhiller, The Mounts
Joel Rosenberg - Hero Series
Robin Hood tales
Firethorn and Wildfire - Sara Micklem
Powers, Gifts, and Voices - Ursula K LeGuin
Between the Rivers - Harry Turtledove
Kraken - China Mieville
Blood Child

Voice Workshop with Pan Morigan

I can't even express how awesome this was. It was the BEST THING EVER. Your whole body is your instrument. Be silly and have fun and make stupid noises. I also learned how to stand properly, and thereby got taller. I can't even! I've been to all these voice therapists and doctors and other assorted BS, when I should have just come to this. The difference between doing these kind of exercises and ones prescribed by therapists is that these ones are fun. And they feel good.

I skipped the next couple of programming slots in favor of a nap. Then I went to the "Redwood and Wildfire" performance by Pan Morigan and Andrea Hairston. It was wonderful.
sasha_feather: Bender from Futurama and Star Trek people (Bender Rulz)
The bus ride was loooooong and I had pain in my face and shoulder the whole time. I listened to podfic and eventually took a Dramamine.

[personal profile] jesse_the_k and I stayed at a private dorm about a block from Roosevelt University. It was fine if a bit spartan. For instance, the beds were single, hard dorm beds (although I slept pretty well anyway), and there were desks but no lamps, just a bright overhead light. We were warned that there would be no linens, so we brought our own, but there were in fact linens on the beds. I would have liked an ice machine. We could hear the El go by, but this didn't bother me; I guess I was tired enough to sleep well. I loved the many conveniently located restaurants.

The first program item I attended was "Colonialism in Star Trek". I didn't take notes here, but it was super fun to geek out about Star Trek as an opener to the con. We tried to define colonialism and if it is even a bad thing if the Federation is doing it. We cited examples of when it's a bad thing in canon, or when there are rebellions or moral dilemmas: The Maquis, forced relocations, etc. The issue of racism or "speceism" in Star Trek, ie the human thinking they are better than Ferengi, not taking the Bajoran's relgion seriously, etc. We talked about the Prime Directive, and one episode of Enterprise where we thought is was egregiously misapplied when Dr Phlox withheld medical treatment from some people, thereby committing genocide. This we discussed at length. The Borg are an example of Star Trek style exploration gone wrong. Exploration is a human trait that we admire, but is it always good? Someone mentioned the book "Collapse" about how human presence has destroyed native ecosystems on Earth. It is ethical to colonize unoccupied planets? How would we even know if they are unoccupied? This was a fun and thought-provoking panel. Yay Star Trek! It is streaming on NetFlix now, which means I may never leave the house again.

Board Games followed; I played Settlers of Catan with Gremlin and Ian.
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Create a life for yourself that is more worth living


These exist in a Venn diagram. Desire gets the worst rap in society and can mean many things, but she is mostly going to talk about the fucking aspect. She gives a call out to asexuality which gets a big cheer.

In the middle of the diagram should be something like Goddess/God, your heart, compassion. But instead exists:

-Family and reproductive status

Each by itself can be fine, but all these things combined can be deadly: they are vectors to rules, hierarchical systems of oppression. Masked by binaries.

Postmodern theory can keep you alive. She gives a 2-minute summary of post-modern theory which basically boils down to "things are more than one/things have more than one interpretation."

Bullies use language to coerce us into being false. Either/Or. She gives some examples. Classic is "man or woman" and they should be separate and equal. She doesn't think this is possible. Riddle of what weighs more? 1 tonne of bricks or 1 tonne of feathers? If you say they weigh the same you are wrong, because as soon as you move, some of the feathers fly off! The only time they weigh the same is IN A VACUUM, and life does not exist in a vacuum!! Others: Real or Fake, Kinky or Vanilla. Many binaries all over!

She lists many identities not covered in LGBTA: feminist, sadomasochist, queer, femme, butch, drag queen or king, intersex, asexual, kinky, queer heterosexuals, poly, gender queer etc, etc. She suggests GASP for Gender Anarchy Sex Positive.

Expression of gender and sexuality constantly shift depending on environment.

The US is the bully of the world. The right wing is defined by the radical right. Where is the radical left movement? Even those on the far left are still operating under the hierarchies of gender, race, class, age, looks, religion, sexuality, ability, citizenship, family and reproductive status, and language. There has never been a coalition that has included all these vectors of oppression.

*When values fail, we go to ethics. When ethics fail, we go to morals: this is where either/or comes from, the 10 commandments kind of things. When morals fail, we go to laws and the criminal justice system.

Somewhere she also talked about her scale of emotions which is in her book Hello Cruel World. She made clear that anger is a lot better place to be than some other emotions. There were some people at this conference that were quite angry: a group of queer people of color talked about how they and trans people and people with disabilities had been marginalized, tokenized, and excluded.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Here is a great YouTube clip of Mia Mingus receiving an award at 2008 Creating Change

She started with a moment to recognize that we all bring histories and stories.

"To be as able-bodied as possible is to be as white and straight as possible."

She is not a fan of criminalization-- we know who gets imprisoned first, so let's think about that re hate crimes legislation.

"Queer" is both a descriptive and political term which is confusing.

Fighting white supremacy is queer liberation! No one org. is responsible for ending oppression *but* we can do something about it! If you have privilege you can not be neutral. There is no neutrality because everyone is privileged in some way.

Intersectionality is a big fancy word for LIFE.

Fighting for justice is queer. Justice not equality: we don't want to be "like you" because how you are depends upon oppression.

Re Disability: Most social justice movements are inaccessible. And the disability movement by and large is white male veterans.

Ableism dictates how bodies should function. The Normal Body. Ableism set the stage for other oppressions (reproductive oppression, queer people classed as mentally ill, etc etc)

Leadership and who gets to tell the story shows you a lot about privilege. Must actively resist racism and be intentional because it's so entrenched.

"How could I not want to be able bodied? How could I desire to be disabled?" (AWESOME, yes) Talking about how disability is also Queer!!! "The wrong body, the public body" that she must daily fight to claim. We are uncomfortable talking about bodies in the queer community.

Question what family means.

Who do we desire to be? As queer people and community? Fight for community at all costs. Don't let others divide us.

Q&A starts
Re: intersectionality: You don't have to give up one thing to fight another. This is very important! We who live with multiple oppressed identities know this.

Q: "What do we do?" re racism.
A: Confront own privilege, hang out with other white radical allies, study and read.

Q: Transnational and Transracial Adoption.
A: Tied to reproductive justice, tied to prison-industrial complex and the military, tied to population control. Relates to children as commodities that one can shop for. Tied to colonizing wars and natural disasters, in which we have no business removing kids from their communities (ie Haiti). Stories of unethical adoptions in S. Korea and Mexico where people are selling kids and making huge profits. Why do this when there are children here? Also this serves the best intent of the parents, not the kids. Funnels kids out of poor countries, out of POC families, breaks apart communities, ie Native American boarding schools.

The next person in line for Q&A, also a transnational/transracial adoptee, gives a dissenting opinion and says he is glad he got a loving home and feels himself a success story. Mentions being a minority within a minority.

Q: How to stress inclusivity, how to get people to come to events not their own interest area?
A: Takes generations. Build coalitions.
audience member: Fight with me, even if it's not your fight.

Q: Where do poly people fit into the queer community?
A: Movement has been struggling with this and must keep evolving. Must be more written and spoken.

Q: Calling people out and getting upset and how that is OK.
A: People aren't perfect. We're living in the machine. Take responsibility and work through our shit - everything is useful, nothing is wasted. Leave a situation if you are unsafe. It's a life long process.

Q: Physical location and Geography.
A: She talks about living in Atlanta.

Q: Educational privilege. Reconciling scholarship and activism.
A: Very hard! Rigid lines in academia, but exciting work being done there.

Q: Being informative vs. being annoyed by people (being in the hot seat)
A: Advocates self-care. Personal choice every day.

Q: Immigration and citizenship.
A: So important for queer community! Think about connections with photo IDs, trans issues, and the outsider identity. Think about who gets demonized, blamed, and thought of as dirty.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Ready to educate the masses? Many queer and allied people are called upon, formally and informally, to speak about our community and answer a wide variety of questions. This can be an exhausting and daunting task for many, including those new to the idea as well as the veterans. The session will focus on skills and strategies necessary for community members to participate in panels and presentations of any sort. Join us to learn these skills and work with those "difficulty" audience members. This program is for all skill levels and a great tool for any student organization. Presenter: Jess Berndt.

This was a great workshop with a very polished presenter. She spent a lot of time talking about introductions and establishing repoire with the audience. Be authentic and yourself as much as possible, and share as you feel safe. Tell jokes and make a connection with the audience. In an intro, say many different things about yourself, including your other identities, things people can relate to. Provide a hook. What questions do you get asked the most?

Know your audience. "What does LGBT mean to you?" is a good way to test the waters. Some people might not know the acronymns: define your language and terms. She does "pride panels" which are a recruitment tool also.

Don't go to a pride panel when you are tired and stressed-- the audience can tell. Be in right frame of mind and be aware of body language. Tables can be a barrier and create audience apprehension. Your own nervousness about speaking can translate to the audience. Once you get the first couple of questions asked, you're over the main hurdle.

Be prepared. A lot of this is about finding your own voice.

**Don't lessen the impact of difficult stories. When talking about negative life experiences, discrimination, etc, people will try to save emotional face by saying, "but I'm here, I'm OK, I'm fine now." This is a mistake because it communicates that it's somehow OK to treat people this way and lessens the power of the story. They will see that you are here telling your story anyway, despite all of that, and it speaks for itself. Don't waste it -- Use it! (This was a WOW moment for me!!)

Don't be too familiar on panels, such as inside jokes.

The hostile takeover: the agenda hog!

Part of knowing your audience is language and respecting people's identity labels. Call people what they want to be called. Some discussion ensued of language reclamation, insider usage of terms, the fact that not everyone is comfortable with "queer" and other terms. "If there is a big gay caucus on language, where is my invite?" she joked.

I think it was here that someone asked about white supremacy within the community and language, and that did not get answered to my satisfaction. Jess said something about how she tries to include people of color on pride panels and worries that they get exhausted because she's calling on them all the time.

We practiced introducing ourselves to the person next to us. I met an adorable foreign exchange student.

She talked about how the audience is a bell curve: the 15% on either end don't worry about, the one end are going to support you no matter what, the other end are against you no matter what. Focus on the middle 70%, the "movable middle" as I heard it called later.

Dealing with hostile audience members:
--deflect with humor
--example of someone pushing a religious agenda: they are not actually asking a question. Say: "What I'm hearing is that you are a member of a faith community that's not affirming to LGBT people." Address it to the room, not to that person: de-escalate.
--example of the very personal, embarrassing question re sex. "That sounds like a very personal and individualized question and I bet it's different for every person." Also, people can look things up on the internet.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Nerdy PSA at [personal profile] hope's journal is a great post on how to make your website or blog more accessible using basic HTML.

One of my big pet peeves that I see people do quite frequently, is hyperlink to things without describing what they are linking to.

For example,

I am reading this right now!


I am reading The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm by Nancy Farmer right now.

I don't want to have to click on your link just to find out what the heck you are talking about. It's irritating. And I'm not trying to pick on any one person here, because I have seen at least two dozen people do variations of this problem. Sometimes for creative reasons, like using "ZOMG" as their hyperlink label when they are excited. But that is just as bad. As [personal profile] hope points out, for someone using a screen reader, when they hear "ZOMG" or "here" that is not very helpful for knowing where the link goes. I TOO FIND IT ANNOYING. (And I'm not holding this against you personally! It's just a part of blogging culture that I want to shift.)

[eta: I lay this out some more in comments at LJ.]


Also Access related, [personal profile] bibliofile, [personal profile] goblingirl and I were talking about con-related access things the other day, and bibliofile had this idea of making a Con Access Wiki. Something that everyone could read, with centralized information for how to do access at a con. Probably it would have to have restricted editing privileges. But the centralization would be nice, so that each con did not have to re-invent the wheel. And it would reduce barriers because you wouldn't have to know who to talk to to find things out, or get over your social anxiety to do so.

What do you guys think? Just an idea I'm pondering. Cons in this case means both conventions and conferences.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Passing this along:

For Compare and Contrast,
WisCon's Accessibility Inclusion Statement is here.

If you have specific questions about Access at WisCon, or want to chat about how to make your own favorite convention more accessible, please email
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Look at this fucking hotel room! It is like a fucking cruise-liner spaceship in the Fifth Element! Ruby Red is going to show up any moment!

cut for pictures )


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